Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 in Google search for New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve!  At the conclusion of Ten of the companies that went out of business this decade and 9,300+ stores closed this year, two tales of the Retail Apocalypse, I described how I planned on ending my calendar year on this blog by telling my readers to "stay tuned for a New Year's Eve entry about the year in Google search, another of my traditions here."  With no further ado, I present Google — Year in Search 2019.

Throughout history, when times are challenging, the world goes looking for heroes. And this year, searches for heroes — both superheroes and everyday heroes — soared around the world.
That was a better rewind of the year than YouTube Rewind 2019!  What's more embarrassing is that both YouTube and Google are owned by the same parent company, Alphabet.  Maybe Google can help YouTube next year.

Speaking of YouTube Rewind, which was a straight countdown compilation video, NBC2 News in Fort Myers, Florida reported on the top six searches in several categories in Google releases the most searched things in 2019, this year's version of One last video about 2018 in search.

For the full top ten, read the image I used to illustrate this entry.

With that, I'm done blogging for 2019.  Stay tuned for a New Year's Day entry to welcome the next decade.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Ten of the companies that went out of business this decade and 9,300+ stores closed this year, two tales of the Retail Apocalypse

"Stay tuned for the year in the Retail Apocalypse, particularly the prediction that 12,000 stores could close in 2019."  That was the program note for today's entry that I used as the conclusion to YouTube rewinds 2019 plus WatchMojo ranks all the decade's rewinds.  As I also did for The top ten science stories of 2019 and the 2010s from Science Magazine and ASAPScience and Time Magazine and Yahoo! Finance look back at 2019 and the 2010s, I'm looking back at both the year and the decade.  In this case, the 2010s come first.  Watch Business Insider's 10 Companies We Lost In The Last Decade.

From 2010 to 2019, the retail apocalypse and changing tastes killed off many iconic companies. We lost Payless ShoeSource, Borders, Wow Air, and Toys R Us this decade.
While I didn't realize it at the time, the first Retail Apocalypse story I wrote about on this blog was the demise of Borders Books.  I thought it was like the bankruptcies of Jacobson's, whose space in Ann Arbor Borders occupied after Jacobson's moved out to Briarwood Mall, and Montgomery Ward's, which was the first anchor to abandon Northland Mall, the second Retail Apocalypse story I covered here.  Both of those were weak companies that went under during a recession, which is when I expect businesses would fail.  I thought much the same of Borders at the time, in addition to it being a personal loss.  In retrospect, the failure of Borders was much bigger than that and turned out to be a taste of things to come.

That's it for the decade in the Retail Apocalypse.  For the year, watch CBS DFW's Despite Strong Economy, 2019 Proved To Be Painful Year For Retailers.

The group Coresign Research reported more than 9,300 stores closed nationwide, which is a 59% jump from 2018.
While the U.S. didn't see 12,000 stores close, it was still a very bad year for brick-and-mortar retail.  It saw Payless ShoeSource, Gymboree, Charlotte Russe, Dressbarn, Shopko, and Charming Charlie all go out of business.  In addition, Forever 21 and Destination Maternity/Motherhood Maternity both declared bankruptcy while still operating.  Also, Macy's, JCPenney's, Ruby TuesdayBed Bath & Beyond, GNC, GameStop, Dillards, and Pier 1 Imports all closed locations.  Wow!

Not all retail news last year was bad, as Sears and KMart having near-death experiences as both avoided liquidation, while RadioShack and Toys R Us showed signs of rising from the ashes after going out of business.  Still, I'm not optimistic about 2020, especially if the yield curve is correct about the next recession.  All of the above liquidations, bankruptcies, and store closures happened during an economic expansion, which is not when I expect a lot of business failures.  That's one of the reasons I find the trend alarming; it's counter-intuitive.  I expect it will become even worse when a recession hits.

That's it for the Retail Apocalypse for 2019.  Stay tuned for a New Year's Eve entry about the year in Google search, another of my traditions here.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

YouTube rewinds 2019 plus WatchMojo ranks all the decade's rewinds

I told my readers to "stay tuned as I start narrowing my focus" at the end of Time Magazine and Yahoo! Finance look back at 2019 and the 2010s, "as I plan on continuing my tradition of posting the year's YouTube Rewind as the Sunday entertainment feature.  I promise it won't include the black hole image."  Relax and enjoy YouTube Rewind 2019: For the Record.

In 2018, we made something you didn’t like. For Rewind 2019, let’s see what you DID like.

Celebrating the creators, music and moments that mattered most to you in 2019.
That was different from what I'm used to watching, although WatchMojo pointed out in Ranking All the YouTube Rewinds that YouTube was merely returning the format of its first two rewinds in 2010 and 2011, just before I started watching rewinds.

It’s time to reflect on a decade of rewinds. For this list, we’re taking a look at all ten videos in the “YouTube Rewind” series, which annually recap the major events and trends of the past year. We’ll naturally be starting off with the worst of the worst, working our way up to the best of the best. And yes, we understand the irony that WatchMojo is doing a list on this particular subject. More on that later… Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be ranking all the YouTube Rewinds.

This is TopX, the show where we count down the good, the bad and the ugly of YouTube.
10. YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind
9. YouTube Rewind: The Shape of 2017
8. YouTube Rewind 2019: For the Record
7. YouTube Rewind 2010: Year in Review
6. YouTube Rewind 2011
5. YouTube Rewind: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge
4. YouTube Rewind: Turn Down for 2014
I generally agree with the ranking, although I think I would switch 2012 and 2013.  I like "Gangnam Style," Psy, and Felicia Day better than "What Did the Fox Say?"

Stay tuned for the year in the Retail Apocalypse, particularly the prediction that 12,000 stores could close in 2019.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Time Magazine and Yahoo! Finance look back at 2019 and the 2010s

I've been expanding my field of view since Christmas, first looking back at 2019 in space, then 2019 and the 2010s in science, so now it's time to examine the news and events of the year about to end from as wide a perspective as I can find.  Fortunately, Time Magazine has done so in 2019: A Year In Review.

No surprise, Time's Person of the Year, Athlete of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year all made appearances.  Although the public servants who testified at the impeachment hearings named Guardians of the Year by Time did not make the cut, impeachment certainly did.  Also, as I pointed out, the first image of a black hole was not only the science and space story of the year, it, along with climate change, was one of the stories of the year, period.

Not only is the year ending, but so is the decade.  Yahoo! Finance examines the events of the 2010s in The decade in review: 2010-2019.

From Trump's election to the first black hole image, a lot has happened in the past 10 years. Here is a recap of just a few of the major headlines.
Since I started blogging here in 2011, I've covered many, if not most of these stories, particularly the more recent ones, so this video brings back a lot of memories.  As for the events I missed, I'm glad this video gave me a chance to mention them by proxy.  They deserve my attention.  And, yes, the black hole image made the top stories of the decade, too.

Stay tuned as I start narrowing my focus tomorrow, as I plan on continuing my tradition of posting the year's YouTube Rewind as the Sunday entertainment feature.  I promise it won't include the black hole image.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The top ten science stories of 2019 and the 2010s from Science Magazine and ASAPScience

I'm continuing the series of retrospective posts about 2019 that I began with yesterday's NASA looks back at 2019 in space by recycling the next one in last year's series 2018's Breakthrough of the year for 2018 from Science Magazine, the top science stories of 2019.  I begin with Science Magazine's 2019 Breakthrough of the Year.

Learn about our Breakthrough of the Year: the first image of the a black hole. Nine other advances are recognized as runners-up.
Not only was the first image of a black hole one of the stories NASA mentioned as one of its accomplishments this year, it is the top science news in Top 10 stories of 2019: A black hole picture, measles outbreaks, climate protests and more from Science News, the source of the image I used to illustrate this entry.  Since Science News focused on top science stories and not merely breakthroughs, its list included not only the return of measles and climate activism, but also using CRISPR to treat genetic disorders, biodiversity under fire, space agencies returning to the moon, and a new anti-depression drug.  Only Denisovans and quantum computing made both lists alongside the first black hole image.

The black hole image also served as this year's science story in ASAPScience's The Biggest Science of the DECADE (2010-2019).

A decade in review: the black hole, crispr pigs, DIY elephant toothpaste? What was (sic) the biggest science stories of 2010 - 2019.
That was a fun retrospective of both science and pop culture for the decade about to end, so I'm glad I included this video.  By the way, the black hole image will also show up in Time Magazine's 2019 in review, which I plan on posting tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

NASA looks back at 2019 in space

I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle.
It's time to begin a series of retrospective entries for the end of 2018.  This is a tradition of sorts on this blog that includes NASA looking back at the year.
With that, I present NASA’s Moon to Mars Plans, Artemis Lunar Program Gets Fast Tracked in 2019 AKA This Year at NASA for 2019.

Setting a bold goal in human space exploration with the Artemis program while celebrating Apollo’s historic first steps onto the Moon, and kicking off the 20th year of humans continuously living and working in space. Here’s a look back at those things and plenty more awesomeness that happened this year at NASA.
Here's to another great year in space for 2020!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Dreaming of a white Christmas with Broken Peach and Tipsy Bartender

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings from Crazy Eddie's Motie News!  This year, I'm going to be a good environmentalist by recycling and updating Merry Christmas from Broken Peach and combining it with Christmas drinks from Tipsy Bartender because both posted videos on the same theme this past week.

First, Broken Peach - White Christmas.

"White Christmas" is a 1942 Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. The version sung by Bing Crosby is the world's best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide. When the figures for other versions of the song are added to Crosby's, sales of the song exceed 100 million.

We hope you enjoy it and... Share! :)
Tipsy Bartender uploaded the perfect drink recipe to go with Broken Peach's song, White Christmas Sangria.

The White Christmas Sangria...I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.
A white Christmas version of a Spanish drink for a Spanish band singing "White Christmas" — perfect!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

History Channel and Inside Edition explain Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah 5780 (2019) from Michigan!  For this year's celebration, I am recycling the concept I used for 'What is Day of the Dead?' National Geographic and USA Today answer to explore the history and traditions of the holiday.

First, I'm sharing History of the Holidays: Hanunkah (sic) from History Channel.

History of the Holidays explores the traditions of Hanunkah.
Pity History Channel misspelled the holiday, as this is otherwise a well-done clip with professional production values.  I'll have to use a corrected version of the video description when I share it on social media.

Next, Inside Edition asked and answered What Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that lasts eight days and the ways it’s celebrated vary widely, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Scholar-in-Residence at UJA-Federation of New York, told InsideEdition.com. “The way that we observe Hanukkah has a lot of diversity, depending on what kind of Jew you are or where in the world you find yourself, but one of the commonalities is that it's a tradition to light the candles and to place them facing the outside world,” he said.
After summarizing the history, Rabbi Creditor did a good job of explaining modern practices, especially in America.  I'm glad Inside Edition, which is not the hardest news source, interviewed him for this video.  He made it not only more credible, but informative and entertaining.

Once again, Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump airing his grievances in Michigan for Festivus

Happy Festivus!  As I promised yesterday, it's time for an airing of grievances.  Watch Trump Melts Down at Rally After Getting Impeached: A Closer Look from Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Seth takes a closer look at Trump’s deranged rally after becoming the third president in history to be impeached and Republicans threatening to rig the Senate trial in his favor.
That's an impressive list of grievances CNN compiled.  One of them was about water-conserving toilets, for which I wrote "That's right down there with his complaints about toilets, something that I'll get to some other time" in Verge Science explains the science and controversy behind our lightbulbs.  Seth did a much better job of that than I could, so I'll count this entry as taking care of that promise.

Speaking of Seth doing a better job, I wrote "I thought his reading of Trump's letter and tweet was hilarious" and that "Seth has videos about both of them" in Meyers, Colbert, and Noah take closer looks at impeachment, the season 3 finale of 'The Worst Wing'.  Follow over the jump for those.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

SNL has fun with the December Democratic debate and impeachment

Merry Impeachmas!  For the second half of today's Sunday entertainment double feature, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle the concept behind last month's SNL has fun with impeachment hearings and Democratic debate but mix things up by beginning my entry the same way last night's show did with PBS Democratic Debate Cold Open.

2020 presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren (Kate McKinnon), Andrew Yang (Bowen Yang), Pete Buttigieg (Colin Jost), Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch), Bernie Sanders (Larry David), Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) and Michael Bloomberg (Fred Armisen) face off in a debate.
Once again, Bloomberg crashes the SNL version of the debate, even if he's not going to appear on the actual ones unless and until the DNC replaces donations and poll numbers with actual votes.  Even then, I'm not sure he'll make the stage.

The Democratic debate did not feature into Weekend Update.  Instead, impeachment was the story of the night in two clips (and a red herring in a third).  The segment opened with Weekend Update: President Trump Gets Impeached.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like the House democrats moving forward with impeachment against Donald Trump.
Just as Weekend Update opened with impeachment, it closed with it, too.  Watch Weekend Update: Jeanine Pirro on Fox News Handling Trump's Impeachment

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro (Cecily Strong) stops by Weekend Update to talk about celebrating Christmas and how President Trump's impeachment is a Democratic coup that will disappear.
That was disgusting — hilarious, but disgusting.

That concludes today's entertainment double feature.  Stay tuned for an airing of grievances on Festivus.

Samantha Bee wishes her viewers a Merry Impeachmas!

Time to follow up on the promises I repeated in The longest night of the year doesn't have the earliest sunset or latest sunrise — science of the Winter Solstice.
I know I twice promised that I would feature Samantha Bee's take on impeachment, but I couldn't fight tradition, as I have observed the Winter Solstice on this blog every year since its first, so I'm not going to miss it today.  Bee will be featured tomorrow, probably along with SNL, for the Sunday entertainment feature.  Stay tuned.
Try as I might, I think it would be a bad idea to combine Bee and SNL into one post, so I'm giving each their own entry — a Sunday entertainment double feature!

I begin, as the show probably did, with the pre-recorded skit An Impeachment Carol.

Sam woke from a long Dickensian slumber to find out there’s still time to get rid of Donald Trump. Merry Impeachment, everyone!
That's a fun fantasy, but Bee knows what the reality will be and tells it in ‘Tis Impeachment Season.

Impeachment day has finally arrived! Great news...until we’re reminded that the Senate is led by Mitch McConnell whose lack of backbone helps him bend over backwards for the president. We’re also joined by a magical special guest!
At least she makes the case for impeachment even if it won't remove Trump from office, which is what Ezra Klein of Vox argued already.  Bee just made it funnier.

As a bonus, I'm embedding Donald Trump and the Articles of Impeachment from last week, which adds Bee's unique take on the final committee hearings.

Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats have unveiled two articles of impeachment against the president. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, so no matter how boring these hearings may be, don't let the GOP yell you to sleep. Stay mad and stay vigilant and stay away from Devin Nunes if you see him on the street. The man is unhinged.
To Nunes, I say "moo!"  To my readers, I wish them "Merry Impeachmas!"

Stay tuned for the second half of today's double feature from SNL.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The longest night of the year doesn't have the earliest sunset or latest sunrise — science of the Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice, to my readers!  I'm continuing my tradition of featuring videos about the science of the day by sharing two videos that came out this week on the science of the solstice.*

I begin with The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon asking What is the winter solstice?

The Eugene Science Center Planetarium Director Haley Sharp presents a short demonstration on what the winter solstice is and what it looks like.
While tonight will be the longest night of the year, it won't feature either the earliest sunset or the latest sunrise.  To explain that, I am featuring another news source from the Pacific Northwest, KREM in Spokane, Washington explaining why the earliest sunset isn't during winter solstice.

3:57 PM - That's when the sun sets in Spokane on December 13th. It's the earliest of the year and from here to summer, the sunsets will get later each day.
So that's why my least favorite mornings are in early January, when the sun rises about 8 A.M. here in southeast Michigan.  That's when the sun rises latest in the Northern Hemisphere.

*Yes, I know I twice promised that I would feature Samantha Bee's take on impeachment, but I couldn't fight tradition, as I have observed the Winter Solstice on this blog every year since its first, so I'm not going to miss it today.  Bee will be featured tomorrow, probably along with SNL, for the Sunday entertainment feature.  Stay tuned.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Trevor Noah and FiveThirtyEight recap the December Democratic Debate live

Last month, both Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert reacted live to November's Democratic debate.  Last night, it was just Noah who went live on The Daily show with the 2020 December Democratic Debate in Los Angeles.*

Trevor went LIVE after the Los Angeles 2020 Democratic primary debate between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.
That was a lot more fun and less time-consuming than reading FiveThirtyEight's live blog of the debate, which concluded with the reporters summing up the debate in a series of headlines.
Meena: Nothing But Fights And Platitudes In The Sixth Debate. Oh, Also A Wine Cave.

Nathaniel: Smaller Debate Leads To Substantive Exchanges Focusing On Buttigieg, Others

Amelia: Biden Rises Above the Fray While The Other Candidates Turn On Buttigieg

Micah: Anticipating A Mini Klobu-Surge? We Just May Be

Geoffrey: Buttigieg Catches Flak Like A Front-Runner

Clare: Buttigieg Bears The Brunt Of On-Stage Attacks.

Perry: You Were Christmas Shopping And That’s Fine — Nothing Really Happened in This Debate
Both Noah and FiveThirtyEight agreed on one thing; Mayor Pete got the bulk of attention last night, while Amy Klobuchar earned some for effectively attacking him and Joe Biden for not screwing up.  On the other hand, the one candidate both ignored was Tom Steyer, who only merited a mention in The Daily Show's video description, but not in the video itself.  Andrew Yang got more attention than Steyer.  I guess money alone doesn't make a candidate interesting.  I hope Michael Bloomberg is paying attention.

Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight had a great throwaway line about the network broadcasting the debate focusing on foreign policy that became the illustration for What Surprised Us About The December Democratic Debate.

I wouldn't expect any less of them.

*I know I promised that I would feature Samantha Bee's take on impeachment today, but Noah gave me a shinier object to focus on.  Tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Meyers, Colbert, and Noah take closer looks at impeachment, the season 3 finale of 'The Worst Wing'

When I prefaced Protests for and against impeachment across Michigan on the eve of House vote and Trump's visit by writing "it's not about today's vote or comedians making fun of the event, although I'm sure I'll write about both soon," I meant it.  It's time to do both today, beginning with House Impeaches President Trump in Historic Vote: A Closer Look from Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Seth takes a closer look at President Donald Trump becoming the third president in history to be impeached.
Having to tape his show before the vote turned out to be not as much of a handicap as Meyers made out.  His prediction turned out to be an easy one, as the House voted to impeach on both counts.  Also, I thought his reading of Trump's letter and tweet was hilarious.  Since Seth has videos about both of them, I think I might just use them for Festivus as this year's airing of grievances.  For Trump, it's always Festivus.

Seth was not the only late night comedian who had the misfortune of taping his show before the vote.  Stephen Colbert did as well, as he noted in Yes, The Trump Presidency Is Just A TV Show We All Have To Live Through.

A former Trump aide likened the House impeachment vote to the season finale of a television show, insinuating that this scandal will soon be over and we'll all wake up wondering what the next season will bring.
Good thing for Stephen that he turned out to be right.  I would miss him if he retired to Margaritaville, especially since he and his writers and photo editors came up with a great meme.

This beats the hell out of "The Trump Show" or even "Our Cartoon President," which Colbert's own people have already used.  I think I'll call his administration this from now on.

On a related note, I've been thinking of Trump's presidency as a TV show for years, so I appreciate someone in the administration confirming my opinion.  At the beginning of his term, I observed on a friend's Facebook page that "Trump isn't staffing an administration; he's casting a reality show."  Last year, another friend of a friend commented that the shutdown worked as cliffhanger for the end of season 2.  Impeachment works really well as the cliffhanger for season 3.  As for season 1, that didn't end on a cliffhanger, but on a triumphant climax, at least for Trump and the Republicans, The tax bill.  I hope season 4 is the last, and ends with Trump being voted out of office.  It worked for Veep, even if it didn't end the series.

Trevor Noah had better luck, as the segment President Trump Impeached | The Daily Show was recorded after the votes.

After hours of partisan debate, the House of Representatives votes to impeach President Trump, and Michael Kosta reports from DNC headquarters where the mood is totally somber and sad.
I think Noah and his writers did a better job with Trump's tweet than Meyers, especially noting how it went through four of the five stages of grief.  The only one it missed was bargaining, which I found ironic considering that Trump is the ostensible author of "The Art of the Deal."

The other thing that Noah did better than Meyers and Colbert was observing how the Democrats in Congress might secretly feel gleeful about impeachment, as much as they wanted to portray their emotions otherwise.  Rank and file Democrats certainly feel otherwise, as evidenced by the cheering at Colbert's prognostication.  In fact, he opened his show last night with a song full of joy at the prospect of Trump being impeached, A Congressional Carol Of The Bells.

Sure, they're great at taking the President to task for his actions, but have you heard Chuck, Nancy and Jerrold sing?
Merry Impeachmas!*

*I'll have to feature Samantha Bee's take tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Protests for and against impeachment across Michigan on the eve of House vote and Trump's visit

I told my readers to "stay tuned" as "I [would] post another entry about impeachment" at the end of It's Okay To Be Smart asks 'will we all eat bugs in the future?'  It's not about today's vote or comedians making fun of the event, although I'm sure I'll write about both soon, but about the public demonstrations both for and against impeachment that occurred last night across Michigan and the rest of the country.

I begin with WXYZ reporting President Trump supporters, protesters rally ahead of his visit.

Hundreds of supporters, as well as protesters, are attending rallies and speaking out across metro Detroit as President Donald Trump prepares to hold a rally in Western Michigan Wednesday.
The protest in Ferndale happened at the same location as the People's Climate March in 2017, so I know the area well.  I'm sure some of the same people were at both demonstrations.  I wasn't one of them.  While I support impeachment, I think the stress of doing so was one of the factors contributing to my diabetes.  Stress is one of the triggers of autoimmune diseases and type I diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, so I'm taking a breaking from stress as much as I can.

The same dynamic played out across the state.  Follow over the jump for videos from outside metro Detroit.

It's Okay To Be Smart asks 'will we all eat bugs in the future?'

I can't resist a video about eating bugs once I know about it, at least, not for long.  So when YouTube suggested one to me when I was researching Recycling is broken but it can be fixed says It's Okay To Be Smart, it was a foregone conclusion that I would share it here.  Watch as It's Okay To Be Smart asks Will We All Eat Bugs in the Future?

People say insects are the food of the future. They’re more environmentally sustainable and more humane than other sources of animal protein. Can they really catch on in western diets? I’m a pretty adventurous eater, but I’ve never actually tried edible insects. So when I got invited to an edible insect Thanksgiving feast, I had to say yes. Along the way I learned that eating bugs isn’t really that new for humans, and that this really could be a delicious food we all eat in the near future.
As I wrote in Verge Science looks at the current state of farming insects for food, "I'm glad to see another revival of interest in the topic" of eating insects, AKA  entomophagy.  I really do think insects are a food of the future.  I'm also happy to see someone from Michigan in the video with Julie Lesnik of Wayne State University as the main expert on the subject.  Detroit represent!

It's Okay To Be Smart also referred its viewers to a video by Brain Scoop on eating bugs for Thanksgiving.  I'm sure I'll get to embedding it, too, but only after I post another entry about impeachment.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Verge Science explains the science and controversy behind our lightbulbs

As much as I blog about energy, I have written very little about lightbulbs, particularly LED bulbs.  The last two times that technology featured prominently in one of my entries was in 2014, when I posted The practicality and esthetics of LED streetlights in February, then LED news from the University of Michigan and Detroit officially joins the salvage economy in October.  Since then, I only made a passing mention of LED lighting in Solar Impulse 2 completes trip around the planet from 2016.  That's an oversight in my coverage, as efficiency and conservation in energy consumption is as important as sustainability in energy production.  Other than autos, I haven't written consistently about reducing energy consumption.  Shame on me.

Fortunately, Verge Science gave me an opportunity to make up for that omission by uploading The science and controversy behind your lightbulbs.

The tech that powers your lightbulbs has made huge leaps forward in the past few years, and is making a big difference in home energy use. But shifting political winds are now threatening the lightbulb revolution that’s only just begun.
The good news is that household energy consumption has been down this decade in large part because of more efficient CFL and LED lighting.  The bad news is that the current administration has decided to waive the requirements for more efficient lights that would have taken effect next year.  Of course, he did it for personal reasons as much as ideological ones, as The Verge quoted him.
A more efficient bulb “doesn’t make you look as good,” President Donald Trump has argued multiple times over the past year. “Being a vain person, that’s very important to me,” he joked at the White House in December. Vanity aside, his position is that consumers ought to be able to purchase whatever kind of lightbulb they want, even if it’s one that uses a lot of energy.
That's right down there with his complaints about toilets, something that I'll get to some other time.  The result won't just be that it will make Trump look better, at least in his eyes.  It might slow down the trend to increased efficiency and innovation, at least in the U.S.
“America’s setting itself up, believe it or not, to become the dumping ground of the world for all these inefficient incandescents,” Noah Horowitz, who works on energy efficiency at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, tells The Verge.

So, as Verge Science asks in a comment to the video, "What kind of lightbulbs do you use?"

Monday, December 16, 2019

Recycling is broken but it can be fixed says It's Okay To Be Smart

"America doesn't just need to recycle more, it needs to recycle better."  That's what I wrote in America Recycles Day in 2018 and recycled forTrevor Noah on Asian countries refusing the West's recycling on America Recycles Day.  That's a sentiment I should have also repeated in Vox explains why we're recycling wrong — Student Sustainability Video Festival 82, which contained the same message.  I get my chance to reuse my observation as an introduction to It's Okay To Be Smart's Recycling Is Broken. Here’s How We Can Fix It.

If everyone would just put more in the recycling bin instead of the trash can, the world would be a better place. Right? Well, that’s not exactly true. For many items that end up in the recycling bin, you’ve actually created more trash by trying to recycle them. You’ve also made it harder to recycle the stuff that CAN be saved, and basically demonstrated that recycling is broken… at least the way we do it today. Here’s how we can fix it.
That's a good summary of both the problems with supply — Americans unintentionally contaminating the recycling stream with items that don't belong or that need to be cleaned up — and demand — China and other Asian countries no longer accepting our recycling for sorting.  Now it's up to us to both clean up the supply and figure out how to do more of our own sorting economically.

So, as It's Okay To Be Smart asks in a comment to the video, "how are you going to become a better recycler?"

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Lizzo is Time's 2019 Entertainer of the Year

For this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I complete the series that began with Greta Thunberg as Person of the Year and continued through the public servants who testified at the impeachment hearings as Guardians of the Year and U.S. Women's Soccer Team as Athlete of the Year with U.S. Women's Soccer Team is Time's 2019 Athlete of the Year" TARGET="">TIME Entertainer Of The Year: Lizzo

Lizzo is the defining star of 2019—not just for the music she makes, but for what she represents. She talks to TIME about her role models, nude photos and a dream career.
Just as sports are about more than athletic competition, entertainment is about more than diversion.  It is also art and art makes statements about society.  That's why I take it as seriously as I do.  It helps that it's also fun.

Congratulations to Lizzo, the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, the foreign service and intelligence community professionals who testified at the impeachment hearings, and Greta Thunberg for being honored by Time Magazine for their impact this year.  May 2020 produce as worthy a group of people.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

U.S. Women's Soccer Team is Time's 2019 Athlete of the Year

I told my readers "Stay tuned for posts about Time Magazine's Athlete of the Year and Entertainer of the Year" at the end of The Infographics Shows asks why are we afraid of Friday the 13th and the number 13?  It's time for me to follow through.  Watch TIME Athlete Of The Year: U.S. Women's Soccer Team.

The U.S. women's soccer team used their platform as star athletes to push for social change.
Not only am I glad that the U.S. women's team is doing much better than their male counterparts, I'm thrilled that they are showing that sports are about more than athletic competition.  Here's to their being an example for equality.

Stay tuned for Time Magazine's Entertainer of the Year as the Sunday entertainment feature.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Infographics Shows asks why are we afraid of Friday the 13th and the number 13?

Happy Friday the 13th!  Instead of telling my readers to drink up under a full moon, I'm being a good environmentalist and recycling the concept behind Brain Stuff explains why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky by sharing a video from The Infographics Show, Why Are We Afraid of Friday the 13th and the Number 13?

As the video points out, there are cultures that don't share our fear of the number 13 in general and Friday the 13th in particular, although they also have unlucky numbers.  I don't know of many Americans who think 4 is an unlucky number like the Chinese do, for example.  There's a reason for that superstition that The Infographics Show does not mention.  The word for four sounds like the word for death in Mandarin and other east Asian languages.  This means April the 4th is considered unlucky.  Hmm.

Enough about triskaidekaphobia.  Stay tuned for posts about Time Magazine's Athlete of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Walt Disney World's gingerbread houses for National Gingerbread House Day

Happy Gingerbread House Day!
Gingerbread House Day on December 12th recognizes a family tradition for many around the country.

A favorite food of an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, brought gingerbread to Europe around 992 AD and taught French Christians to bake it. Since gingerbread was often used in religious ceremonies, monks baked to be sturdy to molded into images of saints.

We can thank the Brothers’ Grimm for a gingerbread house, though. Through their tale of Hansel and Gretel, they introduce an evil witch who lives in a house made of gingerbread. It didn’t take long for the German gingerbread guilds to pick up the idea. Soon, they put gingerbread houses to a more festive use making snowy cottages made from the spicy-sweet treat.

Today, we can spend the day baking, cutting, and building to our heart’s delight. Kits take some steps out of the process so we can get right down to constructing our winter wonderlands.
Disney Food Blog Guide (DFBGuide) gave its viewers a tour of these "winter wonderlands" made of baked goods in Disney World Gingerbread House Tour 2019!

It's that time of year again! The Disney World gingerbread houses are HERE and we're taking you on a tour to visit ALL of them, including some brand new displays for 2019!
This is the third year DFBGuide has produced a video on Walt Disney World's gingerbread houses.  I won't embed them as well, as they might be repetitious and I don't feel like working that hard today.  Besides, I'm an environmentalist; not only do I recycle, I conserve my resources.

Yes, I'm in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood today.  I won't be much more serious tomorrow, as it will be Friday the 13th.  Stay tuned!

Time names the public servants who testified at the impeachment hearings 2019's Guardians of the Year

I concluded Time names Greta Thunberg Person of the Year for 2019 with a program note.
Time bestowed three other titles, Athlete of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, and Guardians of the Year.  I plan on posting videos about all of them as the week progresses.  Stay tuned.
I continue with today's video, TIME Guardians Of The Year: The Public Servants.

Nonpartisan public servants who exposed the evidence that prompted the impeachment of a President are Time's Guardians of the Year.
I already gave my readers a funny look at the witnesses in Meyers and Colbert take closer looks at last week's impeachment hearings.  It is time I presented a more serious look at the people who provided the substance for the articles of impeachment.  Thanks to Time Magazine, I was able to.

Congratulations to the recipients of this honor and thank you for your service to our country.  May it not be in vain.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Time names Greta Thunberg Person of the Year for 2019

I trolled Kunstler's readers in a comment to Cascading Cat Litter about Greta Thunberg.
My choice for the Nobel Peace Prize is Greta Thunberg, who started the Youth Climate Strike.  Better her than Assange or even the student activists from Parkland, Florida.
That didn't happen, as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize.  However, she did earn an honor that would have worked just as well for the purpose.  Watch TIME 2019 Person Of The Year: Greta Thunberg.

Greta Thunberg is the face of a global youth-led climate movement.
Congratulations, Greta!  Not only are you the Person of the Year, you are the youngest to ever be named for this title.  May you and your youthful followers continue to raise people's awareness and prompt action on the climate.

Time bestowed three other titles, Athlete of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, and Guardians of the Year.  I plan on posting videos about all of them as the week progresses.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Celebrate achievements in diplomacy, science, economics, and literature on Nobel Prize Day 2019

Happy Nobel Prize Day!  I begin this year's observance the same way I did last year, with the winner of the Peace Prize.  Watch DW News (Deutsche Welle or German Broadcasting) answer Nobel Peace Prize 2019: Who is Abiy Ahmed?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been announced as the winner of this prestigious award for his work to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Ahmed was up against around 300 nominees. The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the announcement in Oslo. Earlier this week, the Nobel prizes in the fields of Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Literature were also awarded.
Congratulations to Prime Minister Ahmed and thanks to the Nobel Prize committee to get me to write about East Africa, a region I have generally and probably unjustly ignored.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the laureates.

Monday, December 9, 2019

John Oliver worries about the U.S. Census

I've been writing about the U.S. Census ever since the second post on this blog, so it should come as no surprise that I would eventually post The Census: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) from the final show of the year.

John Oliver discusses the census, why it matters, and the consequences of an undercount.
Yikes!  Unfortunately, none of this is a surprise to me.  Other than making it funny, Oliver delivers the same information that Vox did when it explained why the 2020 Census is at risk.  That means I have the same reaction, which I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle.
This hits home for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I moonlighted as a census taker in 2000 and Kenneth Prewitt was the head of the Census Bureau then.  While I've mentioned several times that I was a National Park Ranger and have posted entries about the census several times, this is the first time I've mentioned my last federal government job.  It's about time.

On a less personal note, I agree with Vox that this is bad for democracy, bad for understanding the country through data, and potentially bad for immigrants.  What good will it do to reform redistricting to reduce gerrymandering if the data being used is flawed?
Fortunately, the citizenship question will not be on the census.  That's the best news about the census since I wrote about it last in February 2018.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

SNL has fun with NATO summit and impeachment

Two weeks ago, SNL had fun with the first set of impeachment hearings and the fifth Democratic debate.  This week, there was no debate — the sixth one will happen next week — so impeachment was a major source of humor, beginning with NATO Cafeteria Cold Open, featuring an all-star cast of comedians as world leaders.

Foreign leaders (Jimmy Fallon, Paul Rudd, James Corden) that were caught making fun of President Trump (Alec Baldwin) at the NATO summit continue their taunting in the cafeteria.
I'll be honest; if it weren't for James Corden as Boris Johnson taping to the "Impeach Me" sign to Alec Baldwin as Trump, I might have not embedded this video because, as funny as it is, it wouldn't have fit the theme.

SNL had more fun with impeachment in Weekend Update: Moving Forward with Impeachment.

Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che tackle the week's biggest news, like the House democrats moving forward with impeachment against Donald Trump.
Finally, SNL returned to the topic of impeachment with its own take on Nancy Pelosi asking for articles of impeachment with Weekend Update: Nancy Pelosi Prays for Donald Trump.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Kate McKinnon) stop by Weekend Update address a reporter's accusation that she hates President Trump and to offer him a prayer.
Kate McKinnon and the writers did a good job of lampooning Pelosi.  Just the same, I don't know if I'd those prayers said on my behalf.

That's it for the Sunday entertainment feature.  I'll conclude by being a good environmentalist and recycling my closing from two weeks ago: "I like the news better when I can laugh at it.  I think my readers do, too.  Happy Sunday!"

Saturday, December 7, 2019

CNBC and Business Insider explain the rise and fall of Forever 21, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

Last week, I featured the Wall Street Journal examining The death and rebirth of Toys R Us as a tale of the Retail Apocalypse for Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day.  This week, CNBC looked at Forever 21's bankruptcy for another installment of tales of the Retail Apocalypse.  Watch CNBC ask and answer Why Did Forever 21 File For Bankruptcy?

Forever 21 has been practically synonymous with “fast fashion” and its massive stores have become a common fixture in America’s shopping malls. But the retailer is in trouble, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in September 2019. The brand is now closing hundreds of stores, as its clothes become more interchangeable with “cheap” rather than “trendy.”
I'm glad to see Forever 21's brick-and-mortar competitors mentioned more than its online ones.  In particular, I don't recall anyone mentioning Amazon, which I find to be a relief.  I also appreciated CNBC pointing out how the chain's own errors contributed to their misfortune; that's the case with most of the casualties of the Retail Apocalypse.  I also liked that the final expert interviewed pointed out that this will not be the end of Forever 21; it will survive in the U.S. and Latin America while staying out of the way of H&M in Europe and Uniqlo in Asia, although it will continue to compete with both in its home markets.

Some of that is also true of Business Insider, which told much the same story up to the bankruptcy filing in The Rise And Fall Of Forever 21, a video I should have used at the end of September.

At its peak, Forever 21 made $4.4 billion in revenue and was one of the fastest-growing fast fashion empires. Now, the retailer is preparing to file for bankruptcy after alienating its core customers and struggling to keep up with the rise of e-commerce. As one of the largest tenants of American malls, a large-scale shutdown of Forever 21's stores could exacerbate the ongoing retail apocalypse.
Business Insider's video is shorter and snappier.  It also mentioned both the retail apocalypse and Forever 21's online competitors, which CNBC ignored.  I think viewers should watch both videos to get a fuller account of the the chain's early success and later failure.  It's important to learn from both.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Colbert says Pelosi asking for articles of impeachment is 'the beginning of the middle'

Last night, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert opened up with a sing-along song parody, Don't Mess Around With Nancy.

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is not fooling around with this impeachment inquiry.
The song riffed on his monologue from the night before, the first half of which was uploaded as Speaker Nancy Pelosi: I Don't Hate Anybody.

After Speaker Pelosi's press conference where she laid out the reasons Democrats must press ahead with impeachment, she got serious while taking questions from reporters.
Some of my readers might fight prayer helpful when it comes to impeachment, but as I found out from writing SNL has fun with impeachment hearings and Democratic debate and Meyers and Colbert take closer looks at last week's impeachment hearings, laughter is more fun.  Here's to Colbert and the rest of the late night talk show hosts finding lots of that to make the proceedings more tolerable.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

CNBC explains how the yield curve predicted every recession for the past 50 years

It's time to revisit the yield curve, "the chart that predicts recessions."
Ever since I wrote The tax bill and the U.S. economy in 2018 and beyond at the end of 2017, I've been watching the yield curve invert.  In all five entries, I noted that an inverted yield curve predicts recessions.  However, I didn't explain how and why that works.
Three months ago, Vox did that for me.  Today, it's CNBC's turn with How The Yield Curve Predicted Every Recession For The Past 50 Years.

The yield curve was once just a wonky graph for academics and policymakers. But in recent years it has become a way to forecast looming recessions. The curve has helped predict every recession over the past 50 years. That means the curve accurately predicted even largely unforeseen downturns like the dot-com bubble of 2001 and the Great Recession in 2007.

As a result, news of yield curve inversions can now send markets tumbling. Policymakers keep a close eye on even small changes in the curve’s composition.

So how did this simple graph showing U.S. Treasury bond interest rates grow into one of the most reliable recession indicators we have? And what does a yield curve inversion really mean?
While it's possible that "it's different this time," I doubt it.  I still think the inverted yield curve earlier this year signals an oncoming recession.  However, I no longer have confidence in my prediction of when that will happen.
"I've been bearish and on recession watch since December 2017 and still stand behind the prediction I made in Ten years ago, we were partying like it was 1929. Are we about to do it again?...'I'm moving my recession call to between July and December 2019.'"  If that happens, it will be closer to December than July, which is only a month away, but I will not revise my forecast until October at the earliest.  I'm even more confident that a recession is coming, even if it takes a bit longer than I expect.
The U.S. is not currently in recession and I'm 99% confident that it will not enter one by the end of the year.  The Federal Reserve has managed to forestall it through interest rate cuts before any recession could begin.  Clever of them.  However, that's not going to work forever.  Therefore, I'm kicking my forecast six months down the road with the next recession starting during the first half of 2020 and more likely during the second quarter than the first.  That would mean any annoucement of it starting would be within a month before the election.  Perfect timing.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Kamala Harris heading home came as a complete surprise

In the same comment to Au revoir Tim Ryan as Ohio Representative retires from race that I quoted in Sestak sinks and Bullock bows out as both drop out, I made predictions about when I expected the second-tier candidates would drop out.
I don't think Kamala Harris is leaving until after she faceplants in Iowa. Also, as much as you might dislike Mayor Pete, who tacked left and then back to the center, he's essentially tied with Harris nationwide and well ahead of her in Iowa. He also has a lot of money behind him. I think he'll be in the contest until Super Tuesday, at least. Booker should last until South Carolina and Klobuchar until New Hampshire.
This was in response to Nebris making his wishes known.
I suspect Harris is next. She shut all her offices in New Hampshire and is going all in on Iowa. I expect her to eat shit there and that will be that.
While I was right that Steve Bullock was one of the next two to leave, both Nebris and I were wrong that Harris would last until Iowa, although Nebris was closer to reality when he thought she would be "next."  As CBS News reported yesterday, Senator Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 presidential race.

CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" to discuss Senator Kamala Harris ending her presidential bid and its impact on the 2020 Democratic race.
Despite all the reporting from Politico and the New York Times about disarray in Harris's campaign, she had qualified for the December debate.  I fully expected her to be on the stage.  That's not going to happen, much to my surprise.  So far, candidates who qualified for debates have continued their campaigns.

I wasn't the only one surprised by Harris's decision.  FiveThirtyEight had the same reaction in their emergency Politics Podcast Harris Drops Out.

The crew reacts to Sen. Kamala Harris's decision to drop out of the Democratic primary.
Despite the short time between the announcement and the recording, the four panelists managed a fairly comprehensive analysis of the situation, especially since they were able to build on what Harris should be thankful for — not much other than the support of her husband.  Now that she's dropped out, she can be thankful for all the supportive statements from her fellow candidates included in the CBS News clip I embedded above.  That's small consolation for her being the most major candidate to have dropped out so far.

As I have done with all the other candidates to have left the campaign, I will retire all of her recipes and memes.  Follow over the jump.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Show your support for democracy by donating $10 for 10 years of Coffee Party USA on Giving Tuesday

Happy Giving Tuesday!
National Day of Giving encourages giving back. It takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Quite simply, take advantage of all the holiday deals to add to your charitable giving. Combined with your family, friends, local and national organizations and through the power of social media, Day of Giving can become a tradition worth passing on.
My tradition for the day, which I began On Giving Tuesday 2017 and continued last year, is to donate to my favorite non-profit, Coffee Party USA.  I am a director and officer of the organization and I just donated $10.00 to it for Giving Tuesday.  In addition, I'm asking my readers to match my donation.

As for what my donation and yours will do for Coffee Party USA, our supporters, and our country, I'm going to be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote originally in Happy National Coffee Ice Cream Day from Coffee Party USA! and reused in Celebrate National Coffee Day 2019 by donating to Coffee Party USA.
Coffee Party USA ia a 501c(4) nonprofit social welfare organization dedicated to empowering and connecting communities to reclaim our government for the people.  To support its efforts, which include educating the public on our website and on our Facebook page, registering people to vote with our partners TurboVote and National Voter Registration Day, and reminding them to vote through our Voter Buddy program, please consider donating.  A donation of $10.00 for ten years of Coffee Party USA is recommended.  For those who wish to give at a higher level of support and be more involved in the organization, please consider becoming a member.  To do the valuable work of the Coffee Party, as well as vote for future Golden Coffee Cup nominees and winners, volunteer.  Not only will Coffee Party USA thank you for it, so will the country!
Thanks for donating.  Now treat yourself.  Since tomorrow is National Cookie Day, I recommend a cookie.

Originally posted at Coffee Party USA.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Sestak sinks and Bullock bows out as both drop out

I wrote "Now to see if my pick of Julian Castro drops out before or after Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet.  My readers and I should find out shortly after the November 13 deadline for the next debate" just above the jump cut in Bye-bye Beto as O'Rourke drops out.  I repeated my prediction in the comments to Au revoir Tim Ryan as Ohio Representative retires from race.  "As for who's next, I still think it will be one of Bennet, Bullock, or Castro.  At least one of them will drop out after they fail to make the next debate."  I was close but not correct, as Joe Sestak suspended his campaign before any of them.  All was not lost, as Steve Bullock dropped out this morning.  Newsy reported on both candidates leaving the contest in Two Democratic presidential candidates drop out.

Former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania Joe Sestak and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana have announced they are withdrawing from the race.
WMUR in New Hampshire covered both candidates leaving and looked ahead to the future in More candidates could drop out after departures of Bullock, Sestak.

The field of Democratic candidates seeking the White House has narrowed, with two candidates dropping out of the race.
Neither FiveThirtyEight nor I picked Sestak as one of the first nine to drop out, but they picked Bullock to do so and they keep looking good, as only Michael Bennet, who was the last one picked in FiveThirtyEight's dropout draft, remains.  Eight down, one to go from the dropout draft.

Even so, FiveThirtyEight still lists 16 major Democratic candidates running, the number before Bloomberg and Patrick entered the Democratic nomination contest at the last minute.

As I have with all the rest of the candidates who have fallen in this cycle's version of the Hungry For Power Games, I'm quoting the relevant passage from that article.
nrakich: OK, I’m going to go with the easy pick, then (thanks, Geoffrey!): Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

sarahf: Ahh!! Stole my pick.

nrakich: Bullock will continue to face a lot of pressure from party elders (and even in his Twitter replies!) to switch to the Senate race.

He’s similar to Hickenlooper in that regard, although frankly I think Democrats’ chances in Colorado’s Senate race don’t change that much if they nominate Hickenlooper vs. someone else. Whereas in Montana, Bullock is legitimately the only candidate who can probably put that Senate seat in play.

Now, like Hickenlooper, Bullock has denied any interest in the Senate.

But maybe, if he doesn’t make the September or October debates, that will change.

He is term-limited as governor, so the alternative is basically to go home and retire.

geoffrey.skelley: But unlike Hickenlooper, Bullock would probably enter a Senate general election in Montana as a clear underdog against Republican Sen. Steve Daines. The state did reelect Democratic Sen. Jon Tester last year, but Tester was an incumbent and it was a favorable environment for a Democrat. And even still, it was close! Bullock probably wouldn’t have as favorable as national environment working in his favor.
Here's hoping Bullock runs for Senate, just like John Hickenlooper.

Follow over the jump for the drink suggestions and memes I'm retiring now that both men have dropped out.